June 25, 2014

 

The Child Support Recovery Act (CSRA) of 1992 altered how the states enforced the regulations and laws of the child support system.  The Act makes it a federal criminal offense to willfully refuse to pay child support, (Daniel Robert Zimijewski).  Since the threat of prison has been used as a deterrent for skipping payments or not making payments in a timely manner, many have challenged the constitutionality of the act.  One argument the opponents of the CSRA have is that the law interferes with traditional state rights.  In support of this argument, many would agree that the federal law absolutely interferes with state rights.  The states must adhere to strict guidelines when operating child support agencies or face strict penalties.

 

The proper name for the law that states must adhere to when operating child support enforcement agencies is The Child Support Performance and Incentive Act of 1998.  This law was implemented along with the laws that reformed both the welfare and child support systems.  One of the rules of this new act was to provide for an alternative penalty procedure for states that fail to meet Federal child support data processing requirements, (Office of Child Support Enforcement, 1998).  This first clause prohibits states from manipulating its own resources for the sake of child support collections.  To argue that the federal government does not intrude into state laws and procedures is absurd. The federal government is directly responsible for dictating standards that states must follow.

 

Secondly, according to the Office of Child Support Enforcement (1998), the act was designed to reform Federal incentive payments for effective child support performance.  Once again, the state is affected by federal mandates due to the reformation to the traditional state policies.  The reform of 1998 is still influencing all 50 states as it pertains to child support performance.  South Carolina, the last state to adopt an automated child support collection system, has failed to meet those performance measurements as of 2014.  As reported by Robert Kittle, a S. C. Capital Reporter, South Carolina taxpayers have been fined more than $104 million for not having a statewide child support enforcement computer system required by federal law in 1997.  This enormous fine will not only have a detrimental affect of traditional state laws, the citizens will also be impacted.

 

Finally, the law was enacted to provide a more flexible penalty procedure for states that violate interjurisdictional adoption requirements, (OCSE, 1998).  This means that all states face punishments when the guidelines are not followed.  By forcing these provisions unto the states, state officials are compelled to follow the federal law.  There is no middle ground for states that may feel differently about the execution of the child support enforcement based on needs of individual citizens and families.  Based on this information, the CSRA does interfere with state law even though the defense is that the federal government merely reinforces state laws which the states were unable to enforce themselves, (Zimijewski).

 

The fact that citizens are greatly influenced by federal laws means that state laws have faced interference.  The law is very clear in stating that one law can not and should not be influenced by the other.  The child support guidelines make it impossible for child support cheerleaders to argue legality because citizens cannot be treated equally when it comes to the execution of these laws. The state and federal governments seem to be one in the same relating to child support.  As parents and as citizens, we need to demand that our government abide by the same laws and scrutiny that it expects everyone else to follow.  This can begin by reforming the child support system.

 

References:

 

Kittle, R. (2014, April 3). S.C. taxpayers fined more than $100 Million for breaking federal - Local news, weather, sports savannah | WSAV On Your Side. Retrieved June 27, 2014, from http://www.wsav.com/story/24780348/sc-taxpayers-fined-more-than-100-million-for-breaking-federal-law

Office of Child Support Enfocement (1998, January 27). Child support performance and incentive act of 1998 | Office of child support enforcement | Administration for children and families. Retrieved June 17, 2014, from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/resource/child-support-performance-and-incentive-act-of-1998

Office of Child Support Enforcement ( 27). Child support performance and incentive act of 1998 | Office of child support enforcement | Administration for children and families. Retrieved June 17, 2014, from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/resource/child-support-performance-and-incentive-act-of-1998

Zimijewski, D. R. (n.d.). The child support recovery act and its constitutionality after US v. Morrison. Retrieved June 17, 2014, from http://www.nccr.info/attachments/394_zmijewski.pdf

 


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